The recent earthquakes in Nepal, on the 25th April and 12th May 2015, have caused a tragic loss of life and had a devastating impact on an already fragile infrastructure.
The resilience of the people of Nepal is legendary but the challenges are enormous. The initial focus was on finding survivors and ensuring essential food, water and safe accommodation are available to all those affected. But there are also short to medium term risks of major epidemics particularly of water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and Hepatitis E, which are all endemic in Nepal.
The Oxford University Clinical Research Unit Nepal (Director Professor Buddha Basnyat) has been based at Patan Hospital, Patan Academy of Health Sciences for the last ten years in partnership with the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Viet Nam, lead by Professor Guy Thwaites and Tropical Medicine at Oxford University.
Through emergency funding the Unit in Nepal immediately responded to the initial challenge of treating patients with trauma in the days following the earthquake. Attention is now turning to ensuring that surveillance is in place to identify and immediately respond to any emerging epidemic of these water borne infections. The research, training and capacity that has been built up over the last decade as part of the collaboration between Patan Academy of Health Sciences and Oxford University allowed this work to begin as soon as the earthquake struck and will continue in the months and years ahead. It is by building these international collaborations and establishing trusted partnerships over many years that together we can mitigate some of the worst effects of such events and move immediately once a crisis strikes to help deal with the medium and long term challenges.
Follow the Wellcome Trust blog When the earth shook: a view from Patan Hospital in Kathmandu